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10 neat tricks and tips for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon

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There is no doubt that Android 4 aka Ice Cream Sandwich brings some new gadgets and functionality and more will be uncovered everyday as everyone digs into the Galaxy Nexus. I have a few things I really like about Android 4 so far. These tips and tricks are some simple things I have found while discovering my own Galaxy Nexus today.

There are so many new features included in Android 4 that the OS itself almost feels brand new. The new favorites tray, folders, face unlock (which does actually work), NFC tools, the list goes on. I haven’t really found a portion of Ice Cream Sandwich that I have disliked.

I will share a few things that I have discovered today. If you find anything that you want to share, by all means, please share in the comments.

1. SWYPE

I really love Swype and it’s not included right now. Swype is working on version compatible with the beautiful 720p screen that the Nexus sports right now. Until then, I have found a very suitable replacement, SlideIT. SlideIT is very similar and actually looks nicer visually than Swype.

 

2. DATA MONITORING

Something that has been left off the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon that is a very welcome omission is “Bloatware”. There are some things that Verizon does stuff on phones that I do enjoy though and one of them is their data monitor widget. This has been left off of the Galaxy Nexus as well. There are two things you can do to keep up with your data still. You have the built-in data usage monitor in the settings (left) or grab a 3rd party app like Onavo (right). The built-in tool doesn’t come with a widget to track data with. Onavo is free and comes with widgets to monitor data. It takes just a few minutes to set your limits and billing cycle for month resets. It also has a monitor that alerts you when applications are running in the background going crazy with your data.

 

3. SCREENSHOTS

When Android 1st popped onto the scene, you had to hook your phone up to your computer and install development software to get screenshots off a device. A couple OEMs, Samsung and HTC, started to throw in a way to accomplish this without major hoops. With Android 4, it’s now built-in. KT posted a how-to earlier today, but it’s very simple… Hold down volume down and power button for a couple of seconds and there you have it! You can share pretty screenshots (below) with friends and even readers of websites (that’s you).

 

4. A LITTLE EASTER EGG FUN WITH ICS

There’s a fun little thing you can do with Android 4. It’s not very functional, but neat nonetheless. Follow along the screenshots below to see!

 

5. BIG BATTERY NOT DOING IT FOR YOU?

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a massive 1850mAh battery but I have heard at least a dozen people complaining about the battery life, myself included. With the built-in battery monitor in the settings, you can learn a ton about where your juice is going. I know this is not rocket science, but I am one that loves to crank up the brightness on my devices and the Galaxy Nexus has one of the nicest screens out there, so you know… turn it up! Well, that’s not so smart. I burned through 2 “almost complete” charges today with that mentality. It wasn’t until I found this little graph below that I knew that the screen was killing me. I changed the setting to auto-brightness and got much better battery life. This was turned off by default.

 

6. TELL A CALLER WHAT’S UP

You know that moment you’re in a meeting and your wife calls and you don’t want to be rude and ignore the call, but you have to? You can either slide to the left to ignore or to the right to answer, right? Well, now with Android 4, you have a 3rd option. When you receive a call, you push down phone icon and instead of moving it right or left, move it up to the text icon. At that point, you will get a menu of canned responses that you can send to that caller immediately, including a choice for a custom message. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

 

7. DUDE! WHERE’S MY WIDGET?

If you’ve used Android before and grab a Galaxy Nexus with ICS, you are going to hold down on the main screen looking to add a widget (left). What? All you can do now is change the backgrounds. You widgets have moved. Now, tap the center icon (the one that’s a circle with 6 dots) and you’ll get your app list. Notice at the top, you have two tabs, Apps and Widgets. Slide left to right through your icon pages or just tap the tab itself. Now you can add your widgets. You need to hold down on the widget you want to use and then it will pop up and allow you to position it.

 

8. NO MORE SETTINGS BUTTON

Have no fear, there are some really quick ways to access the settings now. Of course, the old button was best in my opinion, but Google didn’t leave us hanging. The two easiest ways to access settings are a) the widget that Google gifted us (left) with and b) slide down you notifications bar and click the settings icon up top (right).

 

9. CUSTOMIZE YOUR FAVORITES TRAY

This one is simple, but very helpful. I won’t waste time explaining it when Google has a perfectly boring video to walk you through it!

 

10. USE FOLDERS TO ELIMINATE CLUTTER

I was an iOS user when Apple introduced folders to the iPhone. It was awesome! Clutter was now a thing of the past. Well, I know that either the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket or the Droid RAZR had the ability to create folders, but I am fairly sure that wasn’t a function of Android, rather something the OEM through in. Now, with ICS, you can create folders. You can put them on the home screen or even in your favorites tray. Just throw a couple related app icons on top of each other and you have a folder.

If you check out my main screen (top left), I have 8 folders covering 90% of my apps. When you receive the Samsung Galaxy Nexus from Verizon, you will have a Google folder already set up (top right). When you tap the folder to open, the software tells you about folders.

Just like Windows Phone 7, Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has a lot of undocumented goodies all around.

For more Samsung Galaxy Nexus coverage here at GBM, check out the links below!

If you know of a cool tip or trick, share with us in the comment section! Happy Nexus Day!

Chris is a former Microsoft MVP, Windows Phone. Chris works for AT&T, but his thoughts and opinions are his own and that he does not represent AT&T in any capacity online. ChrisLeckness.com

28 Comments

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    12/16/2011 at 4:56 am

    Thanks for
    providing such a great information here.

  2. Danahermann

    12/16/2011 at 7:21 am

    how did you switch to that clock on your homescreen?

    • Chris Leckness

      12/16/2011 at 3:46 pm

      That clock is part of a paid app called HDWidgets. It was 10 cents during the sale this past week.

    • Claire

      07/11/2012 at 8:35 am

      How do you switch the clock on the home screen? I love the one on your screen.

  3. Sidney Kutchuk

    12/18/2011 at 7:30 pm

    Upgraded my Droid x to the nexus and have a question?
    After taking a pic on my droid I had the option to sent the photo direct to Costco for printing.
    Is there a way to add this to the share option as well on the Nexus?

    • Chris Leckness

      12/18/2011 at 9:55 pm

      I am not sure about that. I am guessing no. You’d probably need to talk to Costco on that.

  4. John Oen eiden

    12/18/2011 at 9:53 pm

    WOW I am 71 years old and new to this type of phone and do appreciate your suggestions.  I need a phone that has everything for a traveling sales person while keeping my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.  First phone out of about 20 that I have been excited about.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.   John Oen Eiden —Hermiston Oregon 97838

  5. Christian

    12/19/2011 at 12:55 pm

    When Google demoed ICS they talked about this cool new way to work with your contacts. They promised that we would be able to see social media interactions when viewing a contact. I am not seeing this,,, any ideas if this feature is on the phone and I am not seeing it, or will it be coming out soon? 

  6. GFQ Podcast Network

    12/19/2011 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the great tips. I made a few videos with some of the topics you discussed. One thing I have noticed is how Android has really streamlined the OS. In my opinion this is the first complete OS release they have done. Feels perfect !
    Wifi Hotspot and Tethering

    Improve Battery Life

    **Ice Cream Sandwich Easter Egg **

    Low Speaker Volume App Fix

    High Quality Youtube Videos

    Text Rather Then Decline call

    • Efrain3282

      12/22/2011 at 6:01 pm

      youre awsome! Holy crap it made SUCH a big difference in video and audio !

  7. Ashwath Shetty

    12/20/2011 at 9:37 am

    Hello First of all new to this site. you ave given a good Samsung Galaxy Nexus tips and tricks. here some of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus tips and tricks: http://forums.techarena.in/tips-tweaks/1445679.htm   i hope this will also help you guys…

  8. Anonymous

    01/09/2012 at 8:23 am

    Android has actually had folders for a long time, and before iOS, too. They looked ugly as hell up until now, though. Also, there is a settings link. It should be in your app drawer – you don’t have to go ahead and make widgets for it.

  9. Ceddrummer

    02/20/2012 at 10:02 am

    how do you get that big digital clock on your home screen?

    • Chris Leckness

      02/20/2012 at 3:52 pm

      That clock is a widget from a program called Beautiful Widgets I believe. I uninstalled a while back.

  10. Quincy Williams

    03/27/2012 at 6:36 pm

    Can someone help me.. I don’t know how to make the folder and its the only reason i read this article so i was very surprised the author didn’t list instructions. Can anyone help. Can anyone help me

    • VFRDavid

      06/20/2012 at 3:15 pm

      I am SURE you’ve figured it out by now – or at least someone told you – but – in case – three months later, this is still an open-issue for you – all you have to do is drag one icon on top of another – as if you’re moving them around on whichever panel you’re looking at – and when you let it go (when on top of another icon) – it automatically creates a folder for those two icons – just continue to drag more on top of that, and you can add them to the folder from there…hope that makes sense…

  11. LB

    05/25/2012 at 8:09 pm

    thank you. you really helped me out :)

  12. A Geek's Way

    07/23/2012 at 6:27 am

    nice article buddy. I really enjoyed. If you know how to use screenshot feature in gingerbread or earlier editio, please let me know.
    I have mentioned few more Samsung galaxy tips.

  13. Chuck

    07/27/2012 at 9:33 pm

    Learning my new Nexus. On my old phone, to make a call from the keypad, I could begin to type the letters of a name and phone numbers that correspond would appear and I could select who I wanted to call. Is there away to do this on the Nexus without going thru the contact list to make a call? Gotta b an easier way. Thqnks

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    This is a great video and I watched it with my friends. I could begin to type the letters of a name and phone numbers that correspond would appear and I could select who I wanted to call. Thanks for sharing

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    I need a phone that has everything for a traveling sales person while keeping my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

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    Just throw a couple related app icons on top of each other and you have a folder.

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